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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Pride and groom

Pet owners are taking up professional courses to learn how to groom their own dogs
The Straits Times - February 25, 2013
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Pride and groom

 

Every month, corporate officer Cindy Lim, 26, spends at least one weekend sprucing up the appearance of her two dogs, a black mixed breed and a brown-black Yorkshire terrier.

She clips their nails, cleans their ears, and gives their fur a trim. Ms Lim is trained to groom her dogs, having attended 60 lessons of a professional course at grooming school Art Of Pets more than a year ago. The hands-on course cost her more than $5,000.

She says: "I have never sent my dogs to other groomers. I have heard stories about dogs being traumatised."

The dog lover spent a year picking up grooming techniques from nail-clipping to cutting fur. She spent an additional $800 to $900 on equipment such as brushes, clippers and an anti-slip grooming table. She says: "It takes a lot of time and effort but I enjoy it, it is a kind of obsession. Once I was trying to be a perfectionist and make sure every strand of fur was in place, it took me eight hours. My dog fell asleep."

Now, it takes Ms Lim five hours to groom one of her dogs.

Some dog lovers here like Ms Lim are picking up grooming techniques from professionals so that they can keep their pets looking in tip-top shape.

Grooming involves basic maintenance recommended for all dogs such as cleaning their ears, clipping their nails and trimming their paw pads. Some breeds of dogs such as shih tzus and yorkshire terriers require more extensive grooming as their fur needs to be detangled, trimmed and scissored.

Experts say that in general, basic maintenance should be done once every one to three weeks while full grooming works should take place once every four to 10 weeks.

According to the Dog Groomers' Association of Singapore, there are at least four grooming schools here. There are also between 200 and 300 professional groomers, some of whom offer introductory classes.

Courses for amateurs usually range from one-day sessions that cost $120 to $800 for three lessons.

The number of students signing up for classes has gone up for grooming schools Prestige Grooming Academy and Art Of Pets Grooming School.

Last year, Prestige Grooming Academy had more than 300 individuals sign up for their one-day introductory grooming class, which is a 50 per cent increase over the years since 2006. Art Of Pets had about 40 students sign up for its basic grooming course, up from about 20 to 25 students in 2009.

Dog Haven Grooming Salon, which offers one-on-one basic pet grooming classes, sees an average of about six participants in a year compared to just one to two in 2010.

Mr Alex Ang, 42, the president of the Dog Groomers' Association of Singapore, says: "The grooming market here is so big and there are those with half-baked skills. Dog owners want to know about grooming standards. It is still recommended that they go to professionals for things they cannot handle."

Mr Zheng Shenlin, 33, a finance analyst, attended an $800 introductory course at Dog Haven Grooming Salon last year, but he still sends his 10-year-old maltese to be groomed once every three months.

He says: "It is not easy and I am not confident about trimming all my dog's fur, so I still send it to the professionals. I do a little bit at home like clean my dog's ears as and when needed."

Some take it very seriously - housewife Krisbelle Anand, 46, paid about $6,000 in total for grooming tools, a professional course at Art Of Pets and a grooming examination. She owns a mixed cocker spaniel Poppy, but for her lessons, she worked on dogs provided by the school. She attended the course last February to August.

She says: "Cutting the fur with scissors was the most challenging. You have to practise on a daily basis so that your fingers are agile enough. Initially, I could not finish cutting all the fur on a dog even in one day."

Mrs Anand is now a certified groomer with the Singapore Kennel Club, having passed the examination where she had to groom a dog in two hours. She might become a part-time groomer in the future.

Another grooming enthusiast is Madam Kristina Ong, a retailer in her 40s, who is halfway through a diploma grooming course at Prestige Grooming Academy. She owns a four-year-old shih tzu.

She says: "His fur grows very fast. I want to be able to try out different styles and layering on him."

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